The Start of New Beginnings

Calling Florence home is like living inside a museum. Everywhere I turn there’s a beautiful terrace with flowers growing through the railings, a 12th century church with exquisite architecture or picturesque building facades. It seems as everything should have a velvet rope in front of it with a sign reading do not touch and that walking past the Duomo on the way to school should be a scene out of a movie, rather than my daily commute. Besides the streets having no rhyme or reason to their direction, I’m looking forward to exploring and finding hidden gems in the city over the next few months.

Over the past few days I’ve been able to try Italian pasta, pizza and Panini’s. The food here is unbelievable and more delectable than my wildest dreams. One restaurant called il Gatto y la Volpe, recommended to me by my friend Chelsea who spent her freshman year in Florence, is going to be my new go to. The penne vodka sauce, house wine, and fresh bread was unlike any food and drink combination I’ve ever had. The sauces are so creamy and the pasta is always al dente. It seems like a popular restaurant for locals and students and the wait stuff is friendly and fun. They also offer a buffet dinner with unlimited food, wine, water and bread that my housemates, friends, and I can’t wait to try.

On Friday, my roommate Melissa arrived and I couldn’t have been more excited to see her. I had held off on letting loose on exploring the city because I wanted to experience it with her as we’ve been planning and imagining our semester for over 10 months. Once she got here I showed her Santa Croce and then we ran to the grocery store to get some bottled water, which is honestly not that great compared to American water for some reason. We then went to our school that had a representative from one of the phone providers there for our convenience. When we went, the two of us thought we know exactly what we wanted, but that quickly changed. In Italy, the only people you can text people free of cost are those using the same provider as you. Even still, providers change depending on what country you’re in so Switzerland and France don’t have the same cell services as Italy. So, long story short I’ve been using my phone only when I have Wi-Fi and will hopefully be getting a second pay as you go phone in order to text people in Italy when I’m out and about without racking up ridiculous data costs. I went to dinner at il Gatto y la Volpe, this time with Melissa and my housemates before going home so Melissa could sleep off her jet lag.

Celebrating Melissa's arrival in Firenze the Italian way--with wine.
Celebrating Melissa’s arrival in Firenze the Italian way–with wine.

Today, I went with Melissa and my other two housemates Hollie and Grace to their orientation and stopped for cappuccino at a local café that has a mixture of local and study abroad student vibe. The café is notorious for it’s latte art that Marco, the man who runs the café, creates that make your coffee totally Instagrammable. After, we came back to the apartment, pushed our beds together to create a jumbo bed, and organized the meetings we have to attend and forms that we have to hand in. For dinner, we went to a Panini place right around the corner called Pino’s that my friend Carlyn told us to go to. All I can say is amazing, but that is an adjective that can only slightly describe all of the food I’ve had since I’ve been here.

Cappuccino from the News Cafe with a frothy drawing of the Duomo.
Cappuccino from the News Cafe with a frothy drawing of the Duomo.

Tomorrow we are spending the day exploring Florence. We want to head to the Ponte Vecchio, which is a famous bridge over the Arno River where there are jewelry stores set up along the bank. Hopefully we’ll get some gelato and meander the wonderfully beautiful, but nonsensical streets of Firenze. Despite the initial shock of being across the Atlantic and the realization that I’d have to adapt to a city that was the opposite of the Manhattan grid system I’d grown so accustomed to over the past semester, I’m up and ready for the challenge.

Ciao for now,

Emily

All Photography by Emily Houston

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